LOGAN, W.Va. — For many people outside of Logan County, the memory of West Virginia’s May 10 primary has already begun to fade.
Constant political bombardment on television, radio and social media has many focused on the often maligned presidential race and upcoming state elections in November.
However, two events and their ongoing consequences have seemingly left the race for Logan County circuit judge on hold.
Just days before the primary, candidate for state senate Richard Ojeda was brutally attacked at a local cook out.
The case reached televisions and newspapers across the country and saturated local politics.
On election day, the results of the non-partisan primary for circuit judge saw Joshua Butcher win the vote total with current circuit judge Douglas Witten trailing by 59 votes.
Witten then requested a recount of the vote, but the vote totals did not change.
On June 6, Witten filed an official notice of election contest with the clerk of the House of Delegates.
The document alleges the election was unduly influenced by the bloody attack on Ojeda.
The document says voting, “was influenced in its entirety by the dissemination of materially false information regarding an allegedly politically motivated assault on a candidate…for the West Virginia State Senate…”
The papers go on to say the purpose of the information was to sway voters away from the other candidate for the seventh district senate seat, Art Kirkendoll — a man with whom Witten was identified.
Witten also alleges a host of other election irregularities which he says should disqualify some precincts.
State code 3-7-3 concerns election contests and lays out that a three person panel should be sworn to hear Witten’s case contesting the election.
In such a case, Witten, Butcher and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin would each select a member of the panel.
Tomblin has selected Charleston lawyer James S. Arnold.
Witten chose John Counts, who served as treasurer of his campaign.
Butcher selected former U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin.
The hearing is set to be held at the Logan County Courthouse August 23.
WVOW Radio contributed to this story. Online at wvowradio.com
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1729 or by email at [email protected]